Q&A: How Small Is Small?

Earlier this week, I had an opportunity to teach an Awareness Through Movement class during Two Dog Yoga's Free Week. About 2/3 of the class were brand new to Feldenkrais and after class, I had two of the new students ask the same question, "How small is small?"

In case you haven't ever taken an Awareness Through Movement class, students are verbally directed through gentle movements and asked questions to help guide their attention and draw connections between different parts of their bodies. Students are specifically asked to make their movement slow and small. But how small is small? One student's definition of "small" is probably completely different from another student lying on the floor next to them. Why do teachers ask for small movement anyway?

Small, slow movement allows you to sense and feel more about what is happening in your movement. Try this:

At each of these distances and speeds, notice what level of detail you can feel in your arm and shoulder.
1. In one big, fast movement, lift your right arm in the air.
2. Repeat, but cut the distance and speed in half. 
3. Repeat, at a quarter of the original distance and speed.
4. Without actually lifting your arm this time, imagine lifting your arm.

There is no official answer to the question, "How small is small?", but each person will find a sweet spot at which they can learn about how they move. The bigger you're moving, the more likely you are to move only in your habitual way. Small and slow movement allows your brain to create new movement patterns so that you can do something different.